Can’t always get what you want
But sometimes you get what you need
My husband and I were very fortunate to make use of a friend’s home in the Keys. As boaters we looked forward to a trip filled with boating on the ocean. Our normal vacations are usually “on the go,” four cities in seven days and constant things to see and do. This vacation would be no exception. We would just do it by boat.
The home we stayed at had a dock and it was easy to rent a small boat. Perfect! Our first full day in Islamorada was wonderful, 80 degrees and sunny. We rented a kayak and viewed the mangroves and Indian Key Island. This trip was going to be wonderful, we thought.
But then the next day was cold and windy; too windy to rent a boat. We were disappointed. So we found other things to do on the islands and hoped it would be less windy the next day so we could get on the water. No dice. The wind continued for the next five days. No boating in our future.
Instead of thinking that this was the worst vacation ever and a total loss, I realized it was exactly what we needed. We were not on the go. We had simple, relaxed days. We explored much of the Keys, experiencing its incredible nature that those who rush down to Key West often miss. The slow days and peaceful nights helped us reconnect together and also to recharge. It was also important to look at what we had, versus what we didn’t. No, we were not able to boat as much as we had expected, but we were able to buy fresh seafood down the street, we were able to watch the sunset on a private beach, and most important we had the means and the time to take the trip in the first place. Often reframing our expectations and being grateful for those things we take for granted can change a bad time to the best time ever.
The winds finally paused just before the end of our vacation and we were able to get on the water for one day. We rented a boat and headed off to snorkel on Alligator Reef.
As a young lass I took swimming lessons and have spent over a decade boating with my husband, but I have yet to learn how to swim. So my brilliant “MacGyver” husband tied a line on the back of the boat I could hold on to and pull myself back to the boat.
Have you ever snorkeled? You wear a mask that covers your nose and you breathe through a tube that rises above the water surface and allows air to reach your mouth. Well the first issue I had was that I float three feet below the waterline, therefore submerging the tube and sending salt water, not air, into my mouth. So I tried to get air through my nose, which was of course useless due to the mask. Panic set in. I kicked and flailed and pulled on the line so I could reach the boat. I was terrified. Each time I tried to get into the water, I would kick hard to stay afloat but I just dropped like a rock sending more water down the snorkel.
So I stopped.
I held on to the boat and consciously breathed through my mouth. It takes some effort to breathe through one’s mouth when all day we unconsciously breathe through our noses.
Once I was comfortable with the breathing I slowly lowered myself into the water. Lo and behold, I could float!! The calm, focused breathing had relaxed my demeanor so that I allowed the salt water to support me. I stopped trying to make myself float and just floated.
This incident made me wonder how many times does fear or the thought that we have to do it on our own, actually hold us down? Next time you find yourself desperately trying to stay afloat in a stressful job, while your kids are fighting, while a loved one is ill, or trying to do it ALL – remember to breathe and relax. See if your natural buoyancy doesn’t handle the situation better than all of your aggressive efforts.